Mayor orders investigation into SF General Hospital death

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is promising a thorough review after a woman's body was discovered in a hospital stairwell.
October 10, 2013 5:43:13 PM PDT
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has ordered an investigation into the events surrounding the death of a woman at San Francisco General Hospital.

Lynne Spalding, 57, disappeared from her room on the fifth floor. She was found dead two weeks later a few feet from where she disappeared, just one floor below.

Now we have the full clout of the mayor's office involved in this case. On Thursday Mayor Lee called Spalding's family, then went to the hospital and met with administrators. He retraced her supposed steps through the hospital, then came out and made an announcement that there will be a full, independent investigation to get to the bottom of what happened here.

"This should not have happened," Mayor Lee said. "And we all agree that we want to prevent it from ever happening again."

When Mayor Lee spoke with reporters Thursday, he echoed the sentiments we heard from hospital administrators the day before. What he has added, however, is the clout of his office in launching an independent investigation of San Francisco General Hospital's security systems, staff, and certainly the sheriff's office, which searched the hospital for the late Lynne Spalding, and missed her in that stairwell.

"If a search was done for a woman and 17 days later her body was found, that was not an adequate search," family spokesperson David Perry said. "So, I don't know how standards fell down but certainly these are not the standards to which a fine institution like San Francisco General should expect its security detail to live up to."

"I do know that with the hospital and the memorandum that they have with the sherriff, they are in fact the police of this site," Mayor Lee said. "They have jurisdiction on the grounds. That's as much as I can say about that. I want to be very patient and thorough before we say anything. And I'm not into pointing fingers at this time."

While in the hospital Thursday, Mayor Lee said that he retraced the patients presumed steps from her room to the stairwell. He described it as a long walk through some busy areas, but wouldn't elaborate. His most telling statement, this one.

"I do think the facts will uncover what has to occur and what the responsibilities are," he said. "But I will say this, the city is responsible for what happened here."

ABC7 News did call the San Francisco Sheriff's Department Thursday afternoon to get a reaction to the mayor's plans for the investigation. The sheriff's office says that whether or not the mayor will be investigating independently, the sheriff's office will be doing its own investigation anyway.


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